I’ve been overweight/obese my entire life, people made fun of my weight from elementary school. This only got worse after puberty when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
After a life time of dieting (sometimes forced by my mother and sometimes self motivated), my OB-GYN suggested weight loss surgery. I was very hesitant because I, like most people, thought it was too extreme for me. I wasn’t that fat. But my BMI and medical history was telling a different story.
On June 27, 2016 I went in for my vertical sleeve gastrostomy (vsg), and 7 months and 80 pounds later, my life is for the better. I decided to keep my vsg to myself, and to a select few who I trust dearly.
1. It was not an “easy way out”.
I repeat: it is not the easy way out. Weight loss surgery is hard, possibly the most difficult thing I ever done. I still have to watch what I eat, exercise, and count calories.
I like to say it’s like having a tutor. Getting a tutor won’t automatically help you pass a class, but they will give you the tools to pass. You still have to work your ass off (quite literally in my case). I still hear people’s comments about others who have the surgery and it boils my blood. I wish I was more open about my surgery but I’m scared of people’s reactions.
2. Weight loss is not a reason to be proud of me.
More people have told me they are proud of me for losing weight than for graduating with a bachelor degree in engineering, getting into a top university for my PhD, and receiving the National Science Foundation fellowship combined.
I think that’s insane. That’s the sort of society we live in, where weight loss and looks matter more than my mind. Yes it was hard work, but how I look doesn’t matter that much. Be proud that I’m working on being healthy. Be proud that I was able to get off my antidepressants. Don’t be proud that I’m “prettier”.
3. Dating becomes really hard.
Now that my stomach is 1/3 of its original size, I can’t eat as much, and I get drunk off of half a glass of wine. Food is a struggle. When I do go out to eat, I order an appetizer and take half of it home.
So the few times I went out post op, it’s difficult to figure out what to order to not raise questions. I don’t want to bring attention to what I eat, or how little I eat. Also the idea of intimacy scares me even more because of all my loose skin.
4. Loose skin is everywhere.
As I mentioned before, loose skin makes me self-conscious. Being obese and losing weight is like when a balloon starts to deflate. The skin was stretched out and now there’s nothing to hold the skin in place so it’s saggy and loose.
I could get surgery to correct it but insurance rarely covers that. Also, I’m hoping to have kids one day, so it’s not advised. I’m proud of my body. I fought for this body. And I’m lifting weights and working to gain muscle, but it may always be there.
5. Losing weight did not fix everything.
Body dysmorphia is real. I still see myself as being almost 300 lbs. I go straight to the 2X sizes not the M/L I am now. I cry in front of the mirror most days. Guys are not throwing themselves at me now. I have to go to therapy weekly.
I constantly ask my friends how I look/need to be reminded that I lost weight. I may have lost weight but that does not automatically mean I gained self-confidence.
For now, I’m a work in progress and that’s ok.